WOW is a book club headed by 29 mothers who have been encouraging their kids to explore the world of words. Taking it a step further, they team up with Dharavi schoolchildren, and support their dreams through the city’s first readathon. Twenty-nine city mothers not only dreamt this dream but also brought it to reality through Wings of Words (WOW), an initiative that gave not only their children but even sixth-graders in Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Vidya Mandir School (SSRVM) in Dharavi to discover imaginary wonderlands through books.
Pratap explains, “Readathon participants commit to reading for this time. Simultaneously, they also look for pledgers to sponsor their reading. These may be their friends, relatives, neighbours and so on. Our pledge amount was R2 per page. The total amount collected, a whopping R1,77,000, is dedicated to a cause, which in our case was the SSRVM.”
The English medium institution provides free education. As is evident by the people behind WOW, the cause to raise the money was hardly obvious. “We are going to support English-speaking and taekwondo classes for the children of SSRVM as well as provide them scholarships,” says Pratap.
Lavaniya, a 13-year-old at SSRVM, said, “The students were kind and really friendly. They taught us how to create the puppets, which we made through recycled bottles and newspapers. They encouraged us even if we said that our puppets were bad. They were very funny.”
Encouraged by the change these children were making, Shaurya Parikh, child of one of the 29 women who started WOW, feels, “It was a beautiful feeling to see the faces of lesser-fortunate children light up with joy because of such a deed. The Readathon has made me a better person and a bookworm. I am all set for another one!” Clearly the enthusiasm has been infectious.
The WOW mothers ensured that all kids read Samhita Arni’s The Mahabharata — A Child’s View, made them write scripts from the epic by grouping the kids together, and encouraged a puppet show after their exams.